How I came to know of Phonetics is fairly odd. Whilst in Australia, I called up an emcee named Detect (who'd sent me his LP earlier in the year). We arranged to meet up and he introduced me to Phonetics, with whom we chilled with for a while. I managed to hear some joints from this LP on CDR with them, and I have to admit, I was impressed. Then, a few weeks later, after returning to the Northern Hemisphere, I received the completely final retail version of their album 'Speech Recognition.'
The tracks which stood out on the album - in the beginning, and now continue to, are; 'The Audit,' 'Mind Tricks' and 'What You Get.' 'The Audit' has a very smooth feel to it and features Naps & Nilvoid. The lyrics are fairly simplistic, however, they work very well above the laid back sounds beneath it. Combine the rhymes, and beats with a catchy hook and you have a damned nice joint on your hands. Then there's 'Mind Tricks.' This is without a doubt my favourite track on this release. I first heard this in Aus. and I enjoyed it then, but I do more so now as I've been able to hear it more. moriRT cooked up another dope beat with a nice beat switchover midway through the cut. Add Ollie Bobbit's sample cutting to the track and you have a gem on your hands. 'What You Get,' also produced by moriRT features some nice lyrics and a perfectly fitting hook. Three examples there of quality music. 'Speech Recognition' also features some nice turntablism tracks in the form of 'Got It Good' and 'Affecting Reality.'
Surprisingly, the album's posse cut; 'Stars End' doesn't make as much of an impact as you'd think it would. The track features Phonetics, Weapon X, Detect, Esterbahn, Naps, BVP and Digga, but it goes past almost un-noticed. There's nothing wrong with the track, but I initially thought it would capture my attention a lot more than it did because of its many participants. When you concentrate on it, you realize how dope it is, but without really concentrating upon it, it's easy to drift past it. Weapon X and Digga come off the best here though, you'll find that when you take the time to listen closely.
The LP also features an amusing skit entitled 'A Werd From Our Sponsors.' It features "Anonymous" (some guy from an Australian Hip Hop message board). He's sampled saying "Werd" and "Fuckin' werd" which has been mixed into the Disney-Lion King song 'Hakuna Mattata'(I have no clue whether that's spelled correctly). Instead of having "Hakuna Mattata...what a wonderful phrase" they replaced "Hakuna Mattata" with "Werd." Nice little skit there.
There are parts of the album, which I would've preferred not to be there. 'Oppozishun' was probably my least favourite track on 'Speech Recognition.' The lyrics I couldn't pay much attention to because I really wasn't feeling the beat, so my mind ended up drifting somewhere else when I heard it. I also wasn't really feeling 'The Nonsense.' The beat here also had me fairly unimpressed, and though the lyrics were nice, the rapping didn't allow me to enjoy them enough though as it was greatly lacking enthusiasm.
Overall, I believe 'Speech Recognition' is an album worth checking.